Until page 166, we shared two different narratives:
• 3rd person omnipotent telling the story of Sarah, a victim of the Velodrome d’ Hiver roundup;
• 1st person of a 45 year old American journalist who is married to a Frenchman, mother of preteen, experience trouble in her marriage, who has been assigned to write about the Velodrome d’ Hiver roundup.
This technique slowed the pace of the story and increased the tension, because the reader knows that these lives intersect in a deeper way – the description of the hiding place and the odd shaped walls that are discovered in the renovation is one of clues.
The tone/mood of the book is one of “doom but I hope it’s not as bad as I think it will be.”
The horror of the Velodrome d’ Hiver roundup is compounded by the lack of knowledge about it – The fact that we as a society and individuals neither want to know or if we know, we prefer to forget as soon as possible so we can go on with our lives.
Pg 79—Sarah’s reaction: The policeman …didn’t they have families too? … Were they told to do so or did they act this way naturally? They seemed of flesh and blood. … She didn’t understand. The reader is confronted with the same question—Why did people react as they did –during the war, after the war. There is no simple answer .
Getting the reader to even consider the why question is often the “take-away” value of literature. Tatiana de Ross does a great job.
Note: The St Martin’s 2007 paperback edition includes a Book Club Guide.